Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thought on the coming persecution

Friday's supreme court decision has really thrown me for a loop.  Not because it was unexpected (it wasn't) but because it has really gotten me to think about persecution.  And for as much good as I logically know persecution does for the individual and the Church, I'll be honest, it scares me.

In the coming years, we are going to see two things happen: churches who preach against homosexuality will be in danger of losing their 501(c)3 status and speaking against this sin will become a hate crime.  The first will cripple many churches financially, and the second will cause many faithful Christians to be sent to jail.

But the government will be generous.  If only a church will refuse to preach the whole counsel of God and bow instead to government regulation, they will be allowed to continue on.

This reminds me of Christianity in China.  Churches can either be government registered, and have to follow government rules about what they can do and teach, or they can be independent (and therefore, illegal) and worship God without government regulation.  Pastors of illegal churches are often thrown in jail.  Meetings have to be secret and there is always the thread of intrusion by authorities.  You see, the Chinese Government wants to be god.  And churches that dare bow only to the True God and not to the Chinese god feel the wrath of this human institution.

Even more, this reminds me of early Christianity.  Early Christians were persecuted in large part not because they worshiped a different God (the Romans had a whole pantheon of gods and didn't mind adding one more) but because they refused to worship the god of the Roman government: Caesar, the one god they were required to worship.

Reading in Daniel this morning, I was struck by two verses.  The context is an uprising by a major enemy of God.

"He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder" (11:32-33)

And what is the final end of this enemy of God and his people?

"And he shall come pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him." (11:45)

So let us stand firm on the Word of God and not fear.  Let us not be man-pleasers and conform the Bible to what is currently popular and accepted.  In the end, there is only God.  The US government, and all governments will have their end in time, but He will not.

Sorry SCOTUS, nice try thinking that you have the power to define marriage.  There is only One Creator of marriage, and He created it to be for one man and one woman.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The End of a Sprint

The end is in sight.

We started on a sprint back in February. That month, we started raising money for the community garden we hoped to build.  Around that time, I took on responisbilities for two big events at church.  In March, we started looking for a home to buy, and made the decision to travel to the Azores, Portugal at the of May to see Alex's family (he hasn't been there in 27 years, and I have never been there or met most of his family).  In April, we broke ground on the community garden (and once we started, Alex worked 30-50 hours per week on it, and it took the majority of my free time as well).  In May, our sprint hit a fever pace as we started packing for our move, finished enough of the community garden to get it open, called our loan company often enough to make sure they got things done in time for our closing, closed on our house, and packed suitcases for our trip to the Azores.  All of this was on top of church and home responsibilities that were already keeping us quite busy before the sprint started.

But you can't sprint forever.  And the end is in sight.  Our vacation is almost over, and while it was relaxing in many ways, as is usual at the end of a vaction, you look forward to getting back to normalcy.  When we get home, we will have three days to finish packing and move into our new home.  So one last push, and we will be finished with the majority of the work we embarked on a few months ago (we still need to finish some things on the garden, and then of course there will be the work of making our new house a home).

But God has been very good to us in this very full season.  All of these potentially stressful things could have caused difficulty in our marriage, but instead, it has strengthened us as we have worked hard side by side.  God used this time to strengthen my prayer life (which is still so, so far from where I want it to be) as I have sought to emulate the example of George Mueller who found it necessary to devote more time to prayer in difficult seasons, when our temptation is to pray less.  And we have both felt God's sweet blessing in many ways, as he has made our community garden vision come to reality, allowed us to visit family that we have been trying to see since we got married almost 7 years ago, and given us our first home (even though we know its just temporary, for the next 4ish year we are in Bloomington).

Here are a few pictures from our vacation.  I definitely plan to write more about that (it was absolutely wonderful!) so look for more to come on that.

Alex and Esther walking down a beautiful cobblestone sidewalk.

Behind Hudson is a picture of a small island created by a volcanic eruption.  It is hard to see in this pic, but in the middle is a lagoon, almost perfectly round, the mouth of the volcano.

Hudson on the beach.  The sand is very dark, made from volanic rock.

Beautiful flowers in front of a beautiful waterfall.  I think I have several hundred pictures of flowers from our trip.

And espresso.  Lots of espresso.